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Tuesday, June 25 - 3:25pmSanction this postReply
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New on ARI Watch:
Harry Binswanger and the Surveillance State
a review of an HBL post of June 10, 2013.




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Wednesday, June 26 - 6:40amSanction this postReply
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It is an interesting question.  We have had a similar debate here from a different perspective entirely. Given the strict definition of the proper purposes and powers of the police, if the police have notice of a tornado coming, are they under any obligation to warn you?  If the police see a child being menaced by a pack of dogs, are they under any obligation to act?  I mean specifically as police qua police, not just people being rational. 

The relevant question here is: If the police suspect that a coercive act is being planned, must they wait for the actual act of coercion, or can they act proactively to project lives and property?
I agree with the The Wall Street Journal:  there is nothing inherently wrong with the government having collected “meta data” about phone calls and such.  The collection of this information has, reportedly, enabled the government to quash planned terrorist attacks, e.g., an attack on the NYC subways that was in the works in 2009.  (Some are objecting that the PRISM data-collection program was not a necessary input in the foiling of that attack;  but even if it wasn’t, it’s better to have all the sources of information we can.)
In general, I’m not scared by government invasions of privacy. I have no secrets.  Those who raise the specter of Big Brother are not on a wrong basic premise, but they are being unrealistic:  when and if we fall into the grip of totalitarianism, there will be nothing to stop the dictatorship from spying on us by any means it wishes.  Such a regime does not require that the tools have been set up in advance.
This is not to say that the present government should be given carte blanche.  And some reining in may well be called for.  But alarmism here is unwarranted and counter-productive.
      —  Harry Binswanger





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Wednesday, June 26 - 7:00amSanction this postReply
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In other news ....

Bernard von NotHaus has been awaiting sentencing on the counterfeiting and fraud charges since, and is building his argument for an acquittal or a new trial with a memorandum filed this week with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
Bernard von NotHaus Seeks Acquittal, New Trial
By Kenneth Corbin -- EcommerceBytes.com -- April 01, 2013
http://www.titanians.org/bernard-von-nothaus-seeks-acquittal-new-trial/

“Attempts to undermine the legitimate currency of this country are simply a unique form of domestic terrorism,” U.S. Attorney Tompkins said in announcing the verdict. “While these forms of anti-government activities do not involve violence, they are every bit as insidious and represent a clear and present danger to the economic stability of this country,” she added. “We are determined to meet these threats through infiltration, disruption, and dismantling of organizations which seek to challenge the legitimacy of our democratic form of government.”
-- U.S. Attorney Anne M. Tompkins
http://www.fbi.gov/charlotte/press-releases/2011/defendant-convicted-of-minting-his-own-currency




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Wednesday, June 26 - 9:44pmSanction this postReply
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In light of the quote above, I'm taking Binswanger off of my Christmas list. There will be no presents for him this year. Civility means privacy and this is for a good reason.

Ed

p.s. It's amazing that he doesn't see the issue like Rand did.




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Thursday, June 27 - 3:42amSanction this postReply
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How did Rand see it? The data-collection at issue wasn't available in her day, so this would take an exercise of abstraction.



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Thursday, June 27 - 8:08amSanction this postReply
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Also to the point, Harry Binswanger is going to be shocked (shocked, I tell you) when some future progressive administration uses his phone calls and emails to convict him in a secret court of being an "economic terrorist" for owning gold.
 
Peter, Cato the Elder (Wikipedia here), as Censor, fought ostentation and luxury among the Romans. He spied into people's homes to see if they violated sumptuary laws.  Just to say, minding other people's business is an old habit.

When Robert Peel suggested the London Metropolitan Police, the debates included two problems: if they wore uniforms, they would be a standing army, but if not, they would be government spies, as in the German states and revolutionary France.

Herbert O. Yardley (Wikipedia here) organized the "American black chamber" which intercepted telegrams and mail. In his autobiographical history of the cryptography agency, he was fired by Henry L. Stimson - then Secretary of State in the Hoover Administration, later Secretary of War in the Roosevelt Cabinet - who said, "Gentlemen do not read each other's mail."  But read it, everyone did.

Of course, you are old enough to know that we call them "wiretaps" because you really could peel the insultation off a telephone line and attach your own device in parallel.  The telephone dates to 1876, but wiretapping only became a question in law in 1928... and continued until 1967, almost 100 years after the invention of the telephone.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in the 1928 case of Olmstead v. United States 277 U.S. 438, 48 S. Ct. 564, 72 L. Ed. 944, held that the tapping of a telephone line did not violate the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unlawful searches and seizures, so long as the police had not trespassed on the property of the person whose line was tapped. Justice Louis D. Brandeis argued in a dissenting opinion that the Court had employed an outdated mechanical and spatial approach to the Fourth Amendment and failed to consider the interests in privacy that the amendment was designed to protect.

For almost 40 years the Supreme Court maintained that wiretapping was permissible in the absence of a trespass. When police did trespass in federal investigations, the evidence was excluded in federal court. The Supreme Court reversed course in 1967, with its decision in Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 88 S. Ct. 507, 19 L. Ed. 2d 576. The Court abandoned the Olmstead approach of territorial trespass and adopted one based on the reasonable expectation of privacy of the victim of the wiretapping. Where an individual has an expectation of privacy, the government is required to obtain a warrant for wiretapping.
http://lawbrain.com/wiki/Wiretapping

Wiretapping in the old way became harder - not impossible - with fiber optic glass cables.

Of course, first class mail always was subject to government inspection.  The modes of communication do not change the essentials.  Rand could not consider everything under the sun.  She may well not even have perceived the problem.

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 6/27, 8:13am)




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Post 6

Thursday, June 27 - 10:46amSanction this postReply
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Peter,
How did Rand see it? The data-collection at issue wasn't available in her day, so this would take an exercise of abstraction.
I don't think it's a difficult exercise of abstraction. The government isn't pulling this data out of the air. They are using the threat of force against 3rd parties - the holders of the data (phone companies, internet companies, etc.) Rand would have been opposed to that unless there was evidence of some kind (i.e., probable cause) against someone for a crime which, if committed, would have represented a violation of individual rights.

If it were purely statistical data and in no way contained personal data, or anything that could be said to be the property of the individual, like, for example, the total number of phone calls to Iran made from Texas, then it would not be the customer's rights that were violated by the data mining, but it would violate the rights of the company forced to comply with the warrant.

All of the data in question will either connect to an individual customer as their property, or will belong to the company and the the issuance of the warrant constitutes a threat of violence and that could only be moral if there is adequate evidence a right has been violated by the customer or by the company - whichever is the one whose property is being examined.





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Thursday, June 27 - 2:43pmSanction this postReply
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Steve, they were secret warrants.
Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSA_warrantless_surveillance_controversy

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/20/fisa-court-nsa-without-warrant

NSA collected US email records in bulk for more than two years under Obama

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2013/jun/20/exhibit-a-procedures-nsa-document

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2013/jun/20/exhibit-b-nsa-procedures-document

Basically, Steve, they were claiming that they could act to prevent a crime.   If a police officer is an a restaurant and overhears a plan to rob a home, does he have the right to arrest the people he overhears?  Or must he wait for an actual violation of someone else/s rights?




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Post 8

Thursday, June 27 - 6:29pmSanction this postReply
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Michael,

You emphasised this phrase in your post: "supported by Oath or affirmation." What were you trying to say with that?
------------

The fact that some warrants were secret just makes it worse. It doesn't change the arguments I made.

These government 'warrants' are still backed by the use of force. Yet there has been no evidence of wrong-doing alleged against individual phone/internet customers or against their service providers.
------------
Basically, Steve, they were claiming that they could act to prevent a crime. If a police officer is an a restaurant and overhears a plan to rob a home, does he have the right to arrest the people he overhears? Or must he wait for an actual violation of someone else/s rights?
If the police search everyone, everyday, to find weapons that have been used in murders, they could prevent future crimes. And if they confiscate all weapons that would prevent future crimes. Matter of fact, if they locked up everyone, that would prevent all future crimes. But with our constitution we created a system where government can't do these things. They need that probable cause.

The policeman who overhears a plan to rob a home can act immediately, if he wants, based upon conspiracy law and if it can be proven that the threat was real and imminent, I've no complaint with it. Or, he can work with detectives to set up a sting, or an ambush, or just break up the plan.



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Post 9

Thursday, June 27 - 8:34pmSanction this postReply
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Peter,

I like Steve's answers but here is a quote from FTNI showing exactly where I was coming from:

Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.
Source:
http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/civilization.html

I've now listened to over a dozen radio interviews regarding the issue. A recurring theme is that it is impossible to use the power in an honest way. The power asymmetry created, ex nihilo, from the simultaneous transparency with regard to what the citizens are doing, and the opaque, black-box, secrecy with regard to what the administration is doing -- inevitably leads to corruption.

This would also come true if you had a magic wand and could waive it in front of someone and tell them:
"Whatever you do to anyone else in the next, say, 12 hours, will not ever be brought out into the light of day. If there is anyone with whom you have an axe to grind, you may act against them with impunity now. Alternatively, if you simply wish to amass riches from immorally uncovering the private plans of investors and productive giants, you may utilize the otherwise-private information for this 12-hour window-of-opportunity -- which I have just granted to you with my magic wand."

You couldn't even invent a greater magnet for corruption and emotion-laden spite if you sat up all night thinking about it. It renders justice totally irrelevant. There is nothing I can think of at the moment which is more dangerous for mankind on earth than something just like this. In Rand's words, man needs to be free from men. It is the only way to enjoy the fruits of human civilization.

Ed

(Edited by Ed Thompson on 6/27, 8:43pm)




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Post 10

Friday, June 28 - 6:02amSanction this postReply
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Ed:

"In Rand's words, man needs to be free from men. It is the only way to enjoy the fruits of human civilization."


Exactly. Freedom ultimately means 'from each other.' -- except under rules of free association.


That definition of freedom is often scurriously attacked with sentiment such as 'no man is an island' -- which has nothing to do with either of those definitions of freedom. These critics/adherents of tribal/herdist/collective uber alles politics blow right by the 'association' in 'free association' in order to try and justify their panicked 'forced.'

"Free to freely choose our associations, plural" is not the same as "every man for himself." It is the formula for polite relations among humans living as peers in freedom, free from emperors, Ivy League Know It All Elites, paternalistic megalomaniacs, Herberts, BusyBodies, and existentially terrified adults acting as children and clinging to the Tribe until their fingers bleed.

As well as the inevitable Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot, or America's latest flavor of OneSizeFisAll Leader Maximus, the affable and charismatic Obama.

regards,
Fred




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Friday, June 28 - 6:09amSanction this postReply
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Ed:

You'll note in Rand's works of art, her heroes were not 'islands.' Rearden did not mine the iron ore with his own hands. He did not run the railroads that delivered his raw materials and also took is product to his customers. He did not literally man ever workstation in his mills.

All of her heroes many -associations- were based on freedom, not force; A.S. was all about the attempt to -force association- onto men, as if mankind were cattle and politicians -- the once honorable plumbers tasked with maintaining the plumbing of state -- had mistaken those plungers for whips and scepters, driving the cattle to 'the' destination. Exactly the rot we see today.

regards,
Fred





Post 12

Friday, June 28 - 7:49pmSanction this postReply
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Fred,

You're right about the NMIAI premise. Funny thing about that premise: If you approach it from a self-stultifying, second-hander mentality, it has moral relevance. However, if you do not approach it from a such a crippling, second-hander mentality, it does not have moral relevance (just like you said). Approached at from a mentality not idolizing dependence, the idea of man as an island is a non sequitur. This reminds me of the kind of rigged-game, political rhetoric you see:

If you don't want to add a breakfast to the school nutrition program, then that means that you want young, helpless, innocent kids to starve. At the bare minimum, you do not care about kids and are therefore a terrible, terrible person. Also, if you don't want to divert and concentrate spending towards the currently-fashionable environmental causes, then that must mean that you want dirty air and dirty water.
In these cases, not wanting the government (i.e., "other people") to step in in order to "help" is taken to mean that you do not want to help. But the assumption is that only the government can help. It is both a straw-man fallacy and at the same time it is also a slippery-slope fallacy -- the slippery slope slides into the straw-man.

In the case of an independent -- or even a willfully-interdependent -- man, it is assumed that any independence leads down a slippery slope to total, 'Grizzly Adams' isolation (i.e., to a straw-man argument). This is not true, though, which proves that a fallacy was adopted at least rhetorically (deceptively), if not in the literal sense (ignorantly).

Ed




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Friday, June 28 - 8:07pmSanction this postReply
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And back to the issue of the potentially-indefinite storing of all meta-data in order to sift through it later (e.g., as when you want to go back in time in order to determine who it was that a known terrorist was talking to, and at what GPS coordinates he was at when he made those calls; or when, perhaps, you want to perform a character assassination on someone who stole your high-school girlfriend, or when you want to make yourself rich off of spying on others, etc.), here's more Rand on the issue:

So long as a concept such as “the public interest” (or the “social” or “national” or “international” interest) is regarded as a valid principle to guide legislation—lobbies and pressure groups will necessarily continue to exist. Since there is no such entity as “the public,” since the public is merely a number of individuals, the idea that “the public interest” supersedes private interests and rights, can have but one meaning: that the interests and rights of some individuals take precedence over the interests and rights of others.

If so, then all men and all private groups have to fight to the death for the privilege of being regarded as “the public.” The government’s policy has to swing like an erratic pendulum from group to group, hitting some and favoring others, at the whim of any given moment—and so grotesque a profession as lobbying (selling “influence”) becomes a full-time job. If parasitism, favoritism, corruption, and greed for the unearned did not exist, a mixed economy would bring them into existence.

Since there is no rational justification for the sacrifice of some men to others, there is no objective criterion by which such a sacrifice can be guided in practice. All “public interest” legislation (and any distribution of money taken by force from some men for the unearned benefit of others) comes down ultimately to the grant of an undefined, undefinable, non-objective, arbitrary power to some government officials.

The worst aspect of it is not that such a power can be used dishonestly, but that it cannot be used honestly. The wisest man in the world, with the purest integrity, cannot find a criterion for the just, equitable, rational application of an unjust, inequitable, irrational principle.
Source:
http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/public_interest,_the.html

Who watches the watchers? The "national interest" is a term utilized by the watchers but it is never defined. Not being defined, it becomes guilty of all of the above criticism.

Ed 




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Friday, June 28 - 8:55pmSanction this postReply
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Ed,

The other issue is that people are talking as if "meta-data" is okay because it doesn't have any personal or private information that is released. That would be like me saying,, "Hey, I'm not with Verizon. They didn't get my info. Go ahead and take stuff, as long as it doesn't come from me."

Even if it were true that they are only taking meta-data (and I don't trust that it is so), that data would still be the product of the efforts and costs of the companies that it is taken from. The government is still holding a gun to the head of the phone companies and the Internet/email suppliers forcing them to gather and hand over that data. It is still a violation of probable cause.



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Friday, June 28 - 11:13pmSanction this postReply
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What I am describing is not even a secret program; you can look up "Lockheed Martin Audacity Program" in the open lit.

In fact, here.

http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/products/audacity.html"


Take a look at the second page of the brochure. That is St. Alban's Roundabout in Farnborough, UK.

compare with

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Farnborough,+Hampshire,+United+Kingdom&hl=en&ll=51.274112,-0.74957&spn=0.002087,0.005681&sll=51.304272,-0.730419&sspn=0.033377,0.090895&t=h&geocode=FW6TDgMdGYT0_w&hnear=Farnborough,+Hampshire,+United+Kingdom&z=18&layer=c&cbll=51.274109,-0.749862&panoid=XKGZwKokTYlYwP6PSSDSOA&cbp=12,357.37,,0,0maps.google.com/maps?q=Farnborough,+Hampshire,+United+Kingdom&hl=en&ll=51.274109,-0.74986&spn=0.002101,0.005681&sll=51.304272,-0.730419&sspn=0.033377,0.090895&t=h&geocode=FW6TDgMdGYT0_w&hnear=Farnborough,+Hampshire,+United+Kingdom&z=

Indeed; who put the 'city' in Audacity?

The image was taken not with a giant Global Hawk drone, but with a tiny, silent Draganfly

http://www.draganfly.com/uav-helicopter/draganflyer-x6/index.php?gclid=CKT75ZnEiLgCFcij4AodFhUAhw

The preferred drone for US domestic drone flights. (I guess it's time to once again snicker about 'black helicopters'...)


Three years ago, I worked on a project for LMCO as a contractor on this program; the system objectified all vehicles in the FOV on roads and highways and maintained a breadcrumb history in a massive networked database behind; every example was from US or UK domestic cities. The idea was to have an event pre-trigger system; if a vehicle was involved in an incident, it would be possible to roll back in time through the database and determine where the vehicle came from. Big Brother enough yet? Hey, that data could never be abused, right?

A fleet of these inexpensive 'drones' would blanket a metropolitan area 24/7/365.

These inexpensive drones also provided real time full motion video, which was projected into a 3D virtual world that integrated the feeds from all in 'theater' resources, but the 'theater' was not Iraq or Afghanistan, as I had been originally told, but US metropolitan areas.

The development effort included a push to make these full motion video re-projection work(register into a 3D virtual world) all the way down to a floor of 10 feet off the ground. (Why?)


Government funded projects are filled with folks filling rooms dreaming this shit up; and what I just described is an example of a non-top secret project.

Do we wake up everyday having the slightest idea what our own taxdollars are used for? Does anybody, even the elected POTUS? It is like an organic thing that feeds itself and goes where it can, not where it may.

It's not that the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing; the left hand doesn't even know there is a right hand, and vice versa, and both hands are grabbing for all they can grab.

Only...there are millions of hands.

We there yet?






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Friday, June 28 - 11:39pmSanction this postReply
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Went to the Draganfly web site mentioned in Fred's post. Found this:

Grant Assistance

The Department of Homeland Security makes grants available to states, local and tribal jurisdictions, and other regional authorities to assist in planning, equipment purchase, training, and exercise needs. Draganfly Innovations will provide grant writing support, consultation, and assistance to qualified agencies.


With what the federal government sees as unlimited funds, given their willingness to borrow 40 cents or more for every dollar they spend, and a willingness to print as much money as they need beyond that... well, they are advertising for people come ask them for money. They don't even have an need, much less an urgent need. They just want lots of other agencies at state and local levels to have as much fun as they are.

It is like Fred said, It is like an organic thing that feeds itself and goes where it can..."



Post 17

Friday, June 28 - 11:55pmSanction this postReply
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Here is an part of pitch for government to buy more Draganflies:

Conservation Enforcement

We live in a free society which can often be dangerous. Conservation enforcement officials need the best technology to keep us safe, but often their budgets will not allow them to hire such advanced equipment. Not anymore.

The Draganflyer X6 helicopter is the perfect platform for surveying areas where hunting, poaching, or environmental offences might be occurring. Instead of hiring an expensive helicopter, or sending a human into a potentially dangerous situation, you can use the Draganflyer X6 helicopter to capture the video evidence you need.


And...

Crowd Control

Whether dealing with a spontaneous victory celebration, protest, large outdoor public meeting or major outdoor event, proper crowd management can mean the difference between a peaceful event or chaos with destruction and injury. ... Live feed from the appropriate camera system can give you vital current information such as crowd size, crowd movement, criminal acts, hazards and perpetrator identification.


Creepy




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Saturday, June 29 - 8:10amSanction this postReply
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The problem is not the surveillance.  The problem is the state.  These "drones" have existed for 50 years. 

"Drones are Everywhere" (on my blog here.)

 The Draganfly is for sale to you! Use it as you wish to secure your home, watch your neighbors, or record yourself on skis...

The problem is not that the police watch us - you hope they do, else you might be killed by a pack of coyotes roaming the city, or be killed by a tornado, as according to Objectivist principles, the police have no duty to act if they know of a storm coming, since no one's rights have been violated by a volitional creature. 

In a constitutionally limited state, police surveillance begins with the cop on the beat and may well end up with spy cams, IR cams, UV, CAT and PET scans, or whatever else.  As long as the goverment is limited by law, what difference does it make?  The problem is that so many things become illegal.  As noted, the only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals and the government can always make more cimrinials.   Of course, in a democracy, the government is "us"  For instance some people want to monitor the environment against pollution, others want to prevent "illegal immigrants" still other mothers want to catch drunk drivers. 

Do you deny that terrorists are plotting to attack us? 

You know... in a perfectly Objectivist world, churches might meet in secret.  The chain of logic is easy enough from irrational metaphysics to rights violations.  Anyone who attends a church service is as much a potential threat to their neighbors as a drunk driver.  In a perfectly Objectivist society, watching for other people's irrational metaphysics might be considered just another kind of lock or gate or security camera at your front door.

Just sayin'... this is more complicated than we seem to realize. 




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Post 19

Saturday, June 29 - 8:32amSanction this postReply
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Michael:

I -want- LE and the fire department to have access to these tools, like Draganfly, when they are placed in dangerous situations. LE rushing to an incident or the fire department addressing a burning building is clearly not an example of blanket surveillance. The window for potential abuse is miniscule, compared to what is afforded by a 24/7/365 Big Brother-esque surveillance of the broad population, in advance, without the firewall of a judge and warrant on a per-instance basis.

What is missing is the firewall; the judge, the warrant, the guardian on the use of these tools. With some irony, the justification is that the mission is to find the needle in the haystack; but it is exactly the mission of those needles to destroy this nation, and a means to that end is to destroy the freedom that this nation has. They succeed when in our panic we destroy it ourselves.

We've lost sight of what it is we're defending.

regards,
Fred



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